2013 Emmy Awards: Our TV critic weighs in on what will win vs. what should win

Hank Stuever
TV critic September 20, 2013

Sunday night’s 65th Emmy Awards show is poised to reveal the future of television — or at least that’s the narrative being presented. Some industry observers have this picture in their heads where, if Netflix’s “House of Cards” wins the outstanding drama award, the sidewalks on Monday morning will be strewn with discarded cable boxes and satellite dishes. Probably not quite.

The change that’s coming has already started: TV addicts are more discerning, more demanding, more involved. This year’s nominations in the major categories reflect the sort of passion that sets Twitter aflame every Sunday night. No one feels halfway about their favorite shows and favorite performances anymore. (I can’t imagine who would even watch the Emmys when the penultimate episode of “Breaking Bad” is on at the same time.)

Hank Stuever has been The Post's TV critic since 2009. He joined the paper in 1999 as a writer for the Style section, where he has covered an array of popular (and unpopular) culture across the nation. View Archive

A confession: I can put on a tux and cover the heck out of an awards show, but I’m terrible at picking the winners in advance. Nevertheless, I’ve been asked to provide my critical Emmy desires (whom and what I’d like to see win) measured against my (pathetic) attempts to prognosticate. Which is fine — days later, nobody can ever remember who actually won.

Drama series


“Game of Thrones” : Natalie Dormer, Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon. (Helen Sloan)

Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in a scene from Netflix's "House of Cards." (Melinda Sue Gordon)

Nominees: “Breaking Bad”; “Downton Abbey”; “Game of Thrones”; “Homeland”; “House of Cards”; “Mad Men”

Hank would give it to: The successive panic attacks I’ve been having on Sunday nights would unanimously vote for AMC’s unerringly brilliant “Breaking Bad,” but I’d love nothing more than to see the Emmy go to HBO’s Game of Thrones,” the now-sprawling, lose-yourself-in-it fantasy epic. Come on — barring whatever happens in the end to Walter White and forgetting “Sharknado,” the Red Wedding is still the television event of the year.

What’ll win: Netflix’s House of Cards,” if the academy feels like piling on to prove an already-proven point about the future of television.

Actor (Drama)


Jon Hamm as Don Draper in a scene from "Mad Men." (Michael Yarish/AP)

Kevin Spacey in a scene from Netflix's "House of Cards." (Patrick Harbron/Netflix)

Nominees: Hugh Bonneville (“Downton Abbey”); Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”); Jeff Daniels (“The Newsroom”); Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”); Damian Lewis (“Homeland”); Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”)

Hank would give it to: Jon Hamm. Because there’ll be one more chance to give another Emmy to Bryan Cranston in 2014 for this unforgettable final season of “Breaking Bad” and because Matthew Rhys of “The Americans” wasn’t nominated, I’m tempted to throw Hamm a sort of career-achievement Emmy for holding it together during what had to be the flattest and least enjoyable season of “Mad Men” thus far. I’m doing this only because of Don Draper’s calm but devastating meltdown in the Hershey’s client meeting at season’s end.

Who’ll win: Kevin Spacey for “House of Cards,” overblown Southern accent and all. Netflixers (and a surprising number of Washingtonians, who should know better than to buy into the show’s notion of Capitol Hill power) just ate it up with a spoon.

Actress (Drama)


Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope on “Scandal” (Richard Cartwright/ABC)

Kerry Washington is in scene from "Scandal."

Nominees: Connie Britton (“Nashville); Claire Danes (“Homeland”); Michelle Dockery (“Downton Abbey”); Vera Farmiga (“Bates Motel”); Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men”); Kerry Washington (“Scandal”); Robin Wright (“House of Cards”)

Hank would give it to: Kerry Washington. There’s a reason half of America hyperactively and saucily live-tweets “Scandal” as it airs — without the other half even realizing what they’re missing. It’s Washington’s steely strong performance as Olivia Pope, the ultimate D.C. fixer and the ultimate architect of White House problems. Imagine how looney-tunes that show would be without her.

Who’ll win: I like Washington’s odds the best, unless it’s a “House of Cards” sweep, then it goes to Robin Wright.

Supporting Actor (Drama)


Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson in “Homeland.” (Kent Smith)

Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson in “Homeland.” (Kent Smith/Kent Smith/SHOWTIME)

Nominees: Jonathan Banks (“Breaking Bad”); Bobby Cannavale (“Boardwalk Empire”); Jim Carter (“Downton Abbey”); Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”); Mandy Patinkin (“Homeland”); Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”)

Hank would give it to: I am perfectly fine with Aaron Paul getting a third Emmy for “Breaking Bad,” but I’d be just as delighted to see Peter Dinklage up there, too (for his second Emmy). I guess this means it should really go to Mandy Patinkin, who wears the part of Saul Berenson on “Homeland” like a heavy but dutiful coat. Also, he was overlooked during “Homeland’s” many wins last year.

Who’ll win: Patinkin.

Supporting Actress (Drama)


Anna Gunn as Skyler White in "Breaking Bad." (Ursula Coyote/AP)

Skyler White (Anna Gunn) and Walter White (Bryan Cranston) on “Breaking Bad” (Lewis Jacobs/Sony Pictures Television/Lewis Jacobs)

Nominees: Morena Baccarin (“Homeland”); Christine Baranski (“The Good Wife”); Emilia Clarke (“Game of Thrones”); Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad”); Christina Hendricks (“Mad Men”); Maggie Smith (“Downton Abbey”)

Hank would give it to: I’d pick Anna Gunn in just about any season as Skyler White on“Breaking Bad” (she’s been nominated twice already), but she’s been so great in these final few episodes that it seems like she should get it next year. Just in case, let’s not chance it — give it to her now. Especially since my close second choice, “Game of Thrones’ ” Emilia Clarke, has a lot of great work left to do with those dragons. Christina Hendricks has been up many times before, but can anyone remember one significant “Joan” scene during “Mad Men’s” tale of 1968?

Who’ll win: Please let it be Gunn.

Comedy series


Julia Louis-Dreyfus in "Veep." (Lacey Terrell/AP)

Sheldon, Jim Parsons, left, and Penny, Kaley Cuoco, right, in the “Big Bang Theory.” (ADAM TAYLOR/WARNER BROS.)

Nominees: “30 Rock”; “The Big Bang Theory”; “Girls”; “Louie”; “Modern Family”; “Veep”

Hank would give it to: I’m still a staunch supporter of “Veep,” for not once reining in its vicious nature and also for pushing its story forward as Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) preps for a presidential run.

What’ll win: It’s a toughie, but I think “The Big Bang Theory” will prevail, mostly by habit.

Actor (Comedy)


Matt LeBlanc as himself in “Episodes” (Jack Barnes)

Sheldon, Jim Parsons, right and Penny , Kaley Cuoco, left, on “The Big Bang.” (Monty Brinton/CBS)

Nominees: Alec Baldwin (“30 Rock”); Jason Bateman (“Arrested Development”); Don Cheadle (“House of Lies”); Matt LeBlanc (“Episodes”); Louis C.K. (“Louie”); Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”)

Hank would give it to: It’s hard to get terribly excited about these choices. Baldwin, I guess? Parsons, again? Louis C.K., even though it’s been more than a year since his show went on creative hiatus? Maybe I’ll give it to Matt LeBlanc , just for being him. (Haha.)

Who’ll win: Parsons, with a slight chance of Bateman.

Actress (Comedy)


Actress Laura Dern holds her award for best performance by an actress in a television series--comedy or musical--for her work in "Enlightened" at the 69th Golden Globe Awards. (REUTERS/REUTERS)

Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope on “Parks and Recreation.” (Paul Drinkwater/© NBC Universal, Inc.)

Nominees: Laura Dern (“Enlightened”); Lena Dunham (“Girls”); Edie Falco (“Nurse Jackie”); Amy Poehler (“Parks and Recreation”); Tina Fey (“30 Rock”); Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”)

Hank would give it to: In a go-big-or-go-home world, I can’t think of many performances as lovely and unsettling as Laura Dern’s two seasons as the idealistic anti-corporate whistleblower on HBO’s now-cancelled “Enlightened.” It’s hard to think of “Enlightened” as a comedy, since I tend to regard it with the reverence of recession-era documentary, but this is where they’ve categorized her, so I’m going with the flow.

Who’ll win it: Just about everyone has become a Leslie Knope fan, so it’s Amy Poehler.

Supporting Actor (Comedy)


Bill Hader, Seth Meyer on “Saturday Night Live” (Dana Edelson/Dana Edelson/NBC)

Jay Pritchett, Ed O'Neill, in "Modern Family." (Peter "Hopper" Stone/AP)

Nominees: Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”); Adam Driver (“Girls”); Jesse Tyler Ferguson (“Modern Family”); Bill Hader (“Saturday Night Live”); Tony Hale (“Veep”); Ed O’Neill (“Modern Family”)

Hank would give it to: This category has been hard to crack during the “Modern Family” ensemble juggernaut, but this is the year to do it. I think Adam Driver was very nearly the best thing about the second season of “Girls” and there’s hardly anything more delightful than watching Tony Hale as the painfully dutiful Gary on “Veep.” Still, though, I would give it to Bill Hader, who conjured so many varied and memorable characters on “SNL” for the better part of a decade, and, when it came time to go, he did so with almost no fanfare or fawning.

Who’ll get it: One of the “Modern Family” guys. O’Neill, if you demand specifics.

Supporting Actress (Comedy)


Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and Jane Krakowski and the cast of "30 Rock.” (Jemal Countess/GETTY IMAGES)

Mitchell Pritchett, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, left, and Gloria Pritchett, Sofia Vergara, in "Modern Family." (Peter "Hopper" Stone/AP)

Nominees: Mayim Bialik (“The Big Bang Theory”); Julie Bowen (“Modern Family”); Jane Lynch (“Glee”); Jane Krakowski (“30 Rock”); Sofia Vergara (“Modern Family”); Merritt Wever (“Nurse Jackie”)

Hank would give it to: Before I give anything in this category, I want to check the calendar and make sure it doesn’t say 2010, because I’d rather give this Emmy to either of “Girls’s” Allison Williams or Zosia Mamet, but, from this predictable field, let’s at last make good on Jane Krakowski’s four Emmy nominations for her work on “30 Rock.” (If she wins, the orchestra must play something from the musical version of “Rural Juror.”)

Who’ll get it: Probably Vergara.

hed to the effect of:

Quick takes on other categories . . .

Outstanding miniseries/ movie


Jacqueline Joe and Elisabeth Moss in the Sundance Channel original miniseries 'Top of the Lake', created by Jane Campion. (Parisa Taghizadeh)

“Behind the Candelabra,” Michael Douglas, Matt Damon. (Claudette Barius)

Hank would give it to: I love almost everything about “ Top of the Lake ,” Jane Campion and Gerard Lee’s moody missing-child mystery set in rural New Zealand, except the ending.

What’ll get it: HBO’s Behind the Candelabra(or maybe History’s “The Bible”).

Outstanding
actor in a miniseries/movie

Hank would give it to: I was let down by all those over-the-top HBO movies about famous men with famous issues — Liberace, Phil Spector, Alfred Hitchcock. So I’ll abstain.

Who’ll get it: Michael Douglas for “Behind the Candelabra”

Outstanding actress in a miniseries/
movie

Hank would give it to: Yes, even with the vision of Jessica Lange’s Sister Jude performing “The Name Game” on “American Horror Story: Asylum,” I’m still going with Elisabeth Moss for “Top of the Lake.”

Who’ll get it: Moss. It’s a Peggy thing.

Outstanding variety series


Stephen Colbert of “The Colbert Report.” (Scott Gries/Picturegroup)

Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon (Lloyd Bishop/LLOYD BISHOP/NBC)

Hank would give it to: This is where the cool late-night shows rule the roost (it’s hard to keep track of how many times “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” has won). It’s time for “The Colbert Report” to win (it’s won in technical and writing categories), but I also think it’s time to recognize “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” which at last jumped to 11:30 p.m. and has been the most adept at making a late-night show relevant in the social network era.

Who’ll get it: “The Colbert Report.”

Writing (comedy)


Jim Halpert, John Krasinski, Dwight Schrute, Rainn Wilson, Michael Scott, Steve Carell, on “The Office.” (Trae Patton/© NBC UNIVERSAL, INC.)

Jack Don­aghy, Alec Baldwin, and Liz Lemon, Tina Fey, on “30 Rock.” (Barbara Nitke/NBC)

Hank would give it to: Greg Daniels, for what turned out to be an emotionally and satisfyingly smart end to “The Office.”

Who’ll get it: If not Daniels, then Tina Fey et al., for the end of “30 Rock.”

Writing (drama)


HBO's "Game of Thrones"- Daenerys, Emilia Clarke. (Paul Schiraldi/PAUL SCHIRALDI PHOTOGRAPHY)

Bryan Cranston, left, and Aaron Paul in "Breaking Bad." (Frank Ockenfels/AP)

Hank would give it to: It’s tough — there are two episodes of “Breaking Bad,” plus “Homeland,” but I like David Benioff and D.B. Weiss for “Game of Thrones.”

Who’ll get it: “Breaking Bad”

The 65th Emmy Awards

telecast begins Sunday at 8 p.m. on CBS.

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